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Expressionistic film showing John's cheating and how his peers punish him.
This movie is part of the collection: Prelinger Archives
Producer: Centron Productions
Audio/Visual: Sd, B&W
Keywords: Social guidance; Psychology; Juvenile delinquency
Creative Commons license: Public Domain
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Subject: Something About Mary
What happened to Mary after this scandal? An unindicted co-conspirator? What after-school activities was she unceremoniously dumped from? It appears she was able to drift away after discovery and melt into the hallways. Johnny should have copied her style as well as her mathmatics test.
Subject: OK, apparently Herk Harvey did direct this!
Sorry . . . this is a retraction. Actually, Herk Harvey started at Centron in 1952 and worked there until 1985. So I guess it's pretty likely that Herk made this.
Subject: FIlm make the viewer think
This 1952 film shows the consequences of cheating, and was made for youngsters, but there are other factors to consider about Johnny's cheating. Johnny seemed like a decent person, but he was under a lot of pressure and frustrated when he found the math work hard. If the teacher had suspicions earlier, why didn't she take the time out to talk to him. Usually there are other factors to guide a teacher how a student progress is doing. What about Johnny's parents? Didn't he have enough confidence to talk with them? As far as the student counsel, I think there judgment was too rigid. A good thing about this film, it makes the viewer think.
Subject: Kansas: World of Angst
The director of this visually offbeat short is generally believed to be Herk Harvey, who grasped some measure of cult immortality with his lone non-industrial directorial outing, the influential 1962 chiller "Carnival of Souls", which has been released to dvd by the Criterion Collection (among others). "Cheating", meanwhile, appeared on MST3K. As previous reviews have mentioned, the short's atmospheric aplomb seems a shade excessive given the very softcore nature of our young lead's crimes, but the teenage mind is a crazy place, prone to exploding minor personal infractions to the level of capital offense. Or at least mine was like that. If nothing else, the short reveals Mr. Harvey as a man unafraid to mix it up stylistically. Perhaps he was already hungering after an outlet for his more creative urges?
I wonder what happened to John after this? I'd love to see a sequel. Something tells me he may have ended up on the roof of the school with a sniper rifle...
As said below, the direction is unusual, effective and really creative for the genre. Definitely worthwhile viewing.
Steve Nordby -
Subject: Social guidance film noir
Johnny finds schoolwork hard, so he gets Mary to help him cheat. He gets away with it, but has bad dreams. That doesn't stop him from cheating again. Sports, student council, and going out for hamburgers take up his study time, and the cheating goes on and on. Finally he gets caught, gets Mary in trouble too, and gets kicked off the student council.
Simple sets, sparse dialog, high contrast lighting. And that ticking clock! The viewers this film is aimed at would likely recently have read Poe's "Tell-Tale Heart."
Written, shot, and acted well enough that the announcer's voice-over explaining each scene is the worst aspect of the film.
Subject: Cheating on the atypical Social Guidance Film
On occasion, some directors break the mold of the 'atypical' social guidancce film and make the film in a style all on their own. Like for example, 'Boy with A Knife' and this film, which the director made after apparently watching one too many Bunuel films. Nice lighting, striking camera shots and great imagery (The shot of the back of Mary's neck is particularily effective) makes 'Cheating' totally worth while. While some of the acting by the supporting cast is a little bad, the leads are great, and make this little film highly reccomended on this site.
Christine Hennig -
High school big-shot John talks his sweet girlfriend Mary into providing him with the answers on algebra tests (he's too busy being a student council member to study). Eventually he gets caught and must suffer for his transgressions. Being kicked off the student council is the least of his troubles, though, as he is tormented by the disembodied head of the algebra teacher, dark lighting, depressing sets, and an incredibly loud ticking clock. This is one of the most depressing films I've ever seen. Never has the concept of shame been so aptly depicted. The triviality of the sin compared with the tone of the film creates a remarkable absurdity.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *****. Weirdness: *****. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on Mystery Science Theatre 3000, Episode #515: The Wild World of Batwoman.